Why To Journal When You Need To Make A Change!
There are many successful people and extraordinary leaders that keep journals. Some examples include former President Barack Obama, Gandhi, Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga, Bernard Burchard, Jack Canfield, Tony Robbins, Mark Cuban, and many more. Journaling has a surprising number of benefits.
Therefore consider these five benefits of journaling:
- Process Unresolved Emotions. Sometimes we go through different emotions without realizing where they come from. Writing helps us make sense of the cacophony of voices within. Often we tend to think over and over about what happened a week or a month ago and how we could have done it differently or how somebody undermined us. Our imagination and hurt feelings build up the story around the actual event. Michael Hyatt noted that “what happened to us is not as important as the meaning we assign to it. Journaling helps to sort this out.” Unresolved emotions can drain our energy, affect our performance at work and our relationships too. When you write down your feelings you will free yourself mentally.
- Self-Awareness. Burnard Burchard says, “No awareness. No Change.” When you keep writing in your journal you start to notice patterns in your thinking and identify the triggers. Journal writing is a great vehicle for self-understanding. With time you will be able to pick up on your beliefs, habits, behaviours and stories that you think about on a daily basis. Take a deep look at your dominant thoughts – these thoughts are the driving force in your life. For instance, let’s say that your most important goal is to have a great relationship with your partner and after an argument, you do not return her or his calls and messages. How does it help you to build that relationship? How does that behaviour impact your everyday life? With self-awareness you will be able to verify, “Does the story support me or does it make me suffer”? The choice is yours.
- Reflection. To reflect means to step back and look at your life. It means to detect sneaky, unhealthy patterns in our thoughts and behaviours. With that knowledge, it is easier to find solutions to move forward in life even when the circumstances are not looking promising.
Dr Pennenbaker, a social psychologist at the University in Texas and pioneer in the field of writing therapy explains, “Emotional upheavals touch every part of our lives. You don’t just lose a job, you don’t just get divorced. These things affect all aspects of who we are – our financial situation, our relationships with others, our views of ourselves, our issues of life and death. Writing helps us focus and organize the experience.”
- You Gain More Control and Put Things In Perspective. Writing your thoughts down allows you to step outside the usual channels to reflect on your life events in a different way. It creates personal space for examining what is really happening as opposed to what you think is happening. Reflecting on your old entries helps you to realize how capable you are in reaching goals and overcoming obstacles. The perspectives that you gain through journaling allow you to understand what is working well in your life and what needs to be changed. In other words, you cannot expect different results with the old way of thinking.
- Sustain Stability During Transitions. Leia Francisco writes, “I believe that journaling during your transitions restores self-trust. … The journal counteracts the social and cultural pressures to move through change too quickly for fear of looking “weak” or self-pitying. In fact, this pressure to fix it fast and move on is one reason people get stuck emotionally in transitions … Your journal gives you permission to define your transition according to your own timeline. … Journaling helps you trust yourself in dealing with the dark unknowns of transitions.”
And when nothing around is familiar, your journal provides a space to feel at home. Journal writing enables you to slow down your spinning mind and get clear on your next steps. Instead of feeling helpless, you will able to activate critical thinking and ask clarifying questions that will help you to get from where you are to where you want to be. You might ask yourself things such as, “what do I need to do?” “Who do I need to reach out to for help?” “What are my action steps?” Asking questions like these when going through difficult times allows you to remain active rather than passive and will move you faster towards happiness.
According to researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center, journaling is a helpful tool in managing mental health. Some of the benefits include: reducing stress and anxiety, improving blood pressure, and regulating mood.
The Center for Journal Therapy, an education and training centre whose mission is “to make the healing art and science of journal writing accessible to all who desire self-directed change,” agrees that journaling is a healthy therapeutic tool for healing, growth, and change.
If these benefits of journaling haven’t convinced you to start this powerful practice, I invite you to begin your journaling experience by responding to the questions below that will provide a quick snapshot of your current state of mind and will reveal the stories that drive you in your life. Are they making you happy or keeping you imprisoned? Let’s check.
What do you Really, Really want? (why 2 Really’s? Because I want you to think only about Your Wants, not what your friends want for you, not your family, not the society, etc) What do You want?
- What do you want?
- Why do you want it?
- Would it be ok if you never had it?
- What is preventing you from not having it right now?
Tip: The response to question 4 is likely the beliefs that are holding you back that you may need to question and change.
You are very welcome to send your responses to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for review and get feedback from the coaching perspective or leave me a comment below.